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1992 Presidential Debate

Series/Special. The 1992 Presidential Debate between George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot from St. Louis.

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00:45:00

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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704

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 9, Mr. Mondale 8, America 6, Mr. Perot 4, Bush 3, Clinton 3, Mr. Reagan 3, Navy 2, United States 2, Reagan 2, Missouri 2, Louisville 2, Texas 2, Mr. Ross Perot 1, Mr. Feldstein 1, Geraldine Ferraro 1, Diane Sawyer 1, Kennedy 1, Barbara Walters 1, Haveup 1,
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  CSPAN    1992 Presidential Debate    Series/Special. The 1992 Presidential Debate between  
   George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot from St. Louis.  

    September 30, 2012
    2:30 - 3:14am EDT  

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>> we can't keep going back for other rebuttals, there'll be time later. we now go to our final round. the way things stand now, we have time for only two sets of questions, and by lot, it will be jim and diane. and we'll start with jim wieghart. >> mr. president, the economic recovery is real, but uneven. the census bureau, just a month ago, reported that there are more people living under poverty now, a million more people living under it, than when you took office. there have been a number of studies, including studies by the urban institute and other nonpolitical organizations, that say that the impact of the tax and budget cuts and your economic policies have impacted severely on certain classes of americans -- working mothers, head of households, minority groups, elderly poor. in fact, they're saying the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer under your policies. what relief can you offer to the
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working poor, to the minorities, and to the women head of households who have borne the brunt of these economic programs? what can you offer them in the future, in your next term? >> well, some of those facts and figures just don't stand up. yes, there has been an increase in poverty, but it is a lower rate of increase than it was in the preceding years before we got here. it has begun to decline, but it is still going up. on the other hand, women heads of household -- single women heads of household have -- for the first time there's been a turndown in the rate of poverty for them. we have found also in our studies that in this increase in poverty, it all had to do with their private earnings. it had nothing to do with the transfer of payments from government by way of many programs. we are spending now 37% more on food for the hungry in all the various types of programs than was spent in 1980. we're spending a third more on all of the -- well, all of the programs of human service. we have more people receiving food stamps than were ever receiving them before -- 2,300,000 more are receiving them -- even though we took 850,000 off the food stamp rolls
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because they were making an income that was above anything that warranted their fellow citizens having to support them. we found people making 185% of the poverty level were getting government benefits. we have set a line at 130% so that we can direct that aid down to the truly needy. some time ago, mr. mondale said something about education and college students and help of that kind. half -- one out of two of the full-time college students in the united states are receiving some form of federal aid. but there, again, we found people that there under the previous administration, families that had no limit to income were still eligible for low-interest college loans. we didn't think that was right.
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and so, we have set a standard that those loans and those grants are directed to the people who otherwise could not go to college, their family incomes were so low. so, there are a host of other figures that reveal that the grant programs are greater than they have ever been, taking care of more people than they ever have. 7.7 million elderly citizens who were living in the lowest 20% of earnings -- 7.7 million have moved up into another bracket since our administration took over, leaving only 5 million of the elderly in that bracket when there had been more than 13 million. >> mr. president, in a visit to
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texas -- in brownsville, i believe it was, in the rio grande valley -- you did observe that the economic recovery was uneven. >> yes. >> in that particular area of texas, unemployment was over 14%, whereas statewide, it was the lowest in the country, i believe -- 5.6%. and you made the comment, however, that man does not live by bread alone. what did you mean by that comment? and if i interpret it correctly, it would be a comment more addressed to the affluent who obviously can look beyond just the bread they need to sustain them, with their wherewithal. >> that had nothing to do with the other thing of talking about their needs or anything. i remember distinctly, i was segueing into another subject. i was talking about the things that have been accomplished, and that was referring to the revival of patriotism and optimism, the new spirit that we're finding all over america. and it is a wonderful thing to see when you get out there among the people.
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so, that was the only place that that was used. i did avoid, i'm afraid, in my previous answer, also, the idea of uneven, yes. there is no way that the recovery is even across the country, just as in the depths of the recession, there were some parts of the country that were worse off, but some that didn't even feel the pain of the recession. we're not going to rest and not going to be happy until every person in this country who wants a job can have one, until the recovery is complete across the country. >> mr. mondale, as you can gather from the question to the president, the celebrated war on poverty obviously didn't end the problem of poverty, although it may have dented it. the poor and the homeless and the disadvantaged are still with us. what should the federal government's role be to turn
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back the growth in the number of people living below the poverty level, which is now 35 million in the united states, and to help deal with the structural unemployment problems that the president was referring to in an uneven recovery? >> number one, we've got to get the debt down to get the interest rates down so the economy will grow and people will be employed. number two, we have to work with cities and others to help generate economic growth in those communities -- through the urban development action grant program. i don't mind those enterprise zones, let's try them, but not as a substitute for the others. certainly education and training is crucial. if these young americans don't have the skills that make them attractive to employees, they're not going to get jobs. the next thing is to try to get more entrepreneurship in business within the reach of minorities so that these businesses are located in the communities in which they're found. the other thing is, we need the business community as well as government heavily involved in these communities to try to get economic growth. there is no question that the poor are worse off.
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i think the president genuinely believes that they're better off. but the figures show that about 8 million more people are below the poverty line than 4 years ago. how you can cut school lunches, how you can cut student assistance, how you can cut housing, how you can cut disability benefits, how you can do all of these things and then the people receiving them -- for example, the disabled, who have no alternative -- how they're going to do better, i don't know. now, we need a tight budget, but there's no question that this administration has singled out things that affect the most vulnerable in american life, and they're hurting. one final point if i might. there's another part of the lopsided economy that we're in today, and that is that these heavy deficits have killed exports and are swamping the nation with cheap imports. we are now $120 billion of imports, 3 million jobs lost,
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and farmers are having their worst year. that's another reason to get the deficit down. >> mr. mondale, is it possible that the vast majority of americans who appear to be prosperous have lost interest in the kinds of programs you're discussing to help those less privileged than they are? >> i think the american people want to make certain that that dollar is wisely spent. i think they stand for civil rights. i know they're all for education in science and training, which i strongly support. they want these young people to have a chance to get jobs and the rest. i think the business community wants to get involved. i think they're asking for new and creative ways to try to reach it with everyone involved. i think that's part of it. i think also that the american people want a balanced program that gives us long-term growth so that they're not having to take money that's desperate to themselves and their families and give it to someone else.
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i'm opposed to that, too. >> and now it is time for our rebuttal for this period. mr. president? >> yes. the connection that's been made again between the deficit and the interest rates -- there is no connection between them. there is a connection between interest rates and inflation, but i would call to your attention that in 1981 while we were operating still on the carter-mondale budget that we inherited -- that the interest rates came down from 211/2, down toward the 12 or 13 figure. and while they were coming down, the deficits had started their great increase. they were going up. now, if there was a connection i think that there would be a different parallel between deficits getting larger and interest rates going down. the interest rates are based on inflation. and right now i have to tell you i don't think there is any excuse for the interest rates
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being as high as they are because we have brought inflation down so low. i think it can only be that they're anticipating or hope -- expecting, not hoping, that maybe we don't have a control of inflation and it's going to go back up again. well, it isn't going to go back up. we're going to see that it doesn't. and i haven't got time to answer with regard to the disabled. >> thank you, mr. president. >> mr. president, if i heard you correctly, you said that these deficits don't have anything to do with interest rates. i will grant you that interest rates were too high in 1980, and we can have another debate as to why -- energy prices and so on. there's no way of glossing around that. but when these huge deficits went in place in 1981, what's
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called the real interest rates -- the spread between inflation and what a loan costs you doubled -- and that's still the case today. and the result is interest costs that have never been seen before in terms of real charges, and it's attributable to the deficit. everybody -- every economist, every businessman -- believes that. your own council of economic advisers -- mr. feldstein in his report told you that. every chairman of the finance and ways and means committee, republican leaders in the senate and the house are telling you that. that deficit is ruining the long-term hopes for this economy. it's causing high interest rates.
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it's ruining us in trade. it's given us the highest small business failure in 50 years. the economy is starting downhill with housing failure --- >> thank you, mr. mondale. you're both very obedient. i have to give you credit for that. we now start our final round of questions. we do want to have time for your rebuttal. we start with diane -- diane sawyer. >> since we are reaching the end of the question period, and since in every presidential campaign, the candidates tend to complain that the opposition candidate is not held accountable for what he or she says, let me give you the chance to do that. mr. mondale, beginning with you. what do you think the most outrageous thing is your opponent said in this debate tonight? >> do you want to give me some suggestions? i'm going to use my time a little differently. i'm going to give the president some credit. i think the president has done some things to raise the sense of spirit, morale, good feeling in this country, and he's entitled to credit for that. what i think we need, however, is not just that but to move forward, not just congratulating ourselves but challenging ourselves to get on with the
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business of dealing with america's problems. i think in education, when he lectured the country about the importance of discipline, i didn't like it at first, but i think it helped a little bit. but now we need both that kind of discipline and the resources and the consistent leadership that allows this country to catch up in education and science and training. i like president reagan. and this is not personal -- there are deep differences about our future, and that's the basis of my campaign. >> follow up in a similar vein, then. what remaining question would you most like to see your opponent forced to answer? >> without any doubt, i have stood up and told the american people that that $263 billion deficit must come down. and i've done what no candidate for president has ever done, i told you before the election what i'd do. mr. reagan, as you saw tonight -- president reagan takes the position it will disappear by magic. it was once called voodoo economics. i wish the president would say -- yes, the cbo is right. yes, we have a $263 billion
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deficit. this is how i'm going to get it done. don't talk about growth, because even though we need growth, that's not helping. it's going to go in the other direction, as they've estimated. and give us a plan. what will you cut? whose taxes will you raise? will you finally touch that defense budget? are you going to go after social security and medicare and student assistance and the handicapped again as you did last time? if you'd just tell us what you're going to do, then the american people could compare my plan for the future with your plan. and that's the way it should be. the american people would be in charge. >> mr. president, the most outrageous thing your opponent has said in the debate tonight? >> well, now, i have to start with a smile, since his kind words to me.
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i'll tell you what i think has been the most outrageous thing in political dialog, both in this campaign and the one in '82. and that is the continued discussion and claim that somehow i am the villain who is going to pull the social security checks out from those people who are dependent on them. and why i think it is outrageous -- first of all, it isn't true. but why it is outrageous is because, for political advantage, every time they do that, they scare millions of senior citizens who are totally dependent on social security, have no place else to turn. and they have to live and go to bed at night thinking, "is this true? is someone going to take our check away from us and leave us destitute? and i don't think that that should be a part of political dialogue. [applause] now, to -- i still have a minute here? >> you have more time. >> oh, i --- >> you can keep going.
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>> okay. all right. now, social security, let's lay it to rest once and for all. i told you never would i do such a thing. but i tell you also now, social security has nothing to do with the deficit. social security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. if you reduce the out-go of social security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce a deficit. it would go into the social security trust fund. so, social security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit. now, again, to get to whether i am depending on magic, i think i have talked in straight economic terms about a program of recovery that i was told wouldn't work. and then, after it worked, i was told that lowering taxes would increase inflation. and none of these things happened. it is working, and we're going to continue on that same line.
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as to what we might do, and find in further savings cuts, no, we're not going to starve the hungry. but we have 2,478 specific recommendations from a commission of more than 2,000 business people in this country, through the grace commission, that we're studying right now -- and we've already implemented 17% of them -- that are recommendations as to how to make government more efficient, more economic. >> and to keep it even, what remaining question would you most like to see your opponent forced to answer? >> why the deficits are so much of a problem for him now, but that in 1976, when the deficit was $52 billion and everyone was panicking about that, he said, no, that he thought it ought to be bigger, because a bigger deficit would stimulate the economy and would help do away with unemployment. in 1979 he made similar statements, the same effect, that the deficits -- there was nothing wrong with having deficits. remember, there was a trillion
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dollars in debt before we got here. that's got to be paid by our children and grandchildren, too, if we don't do it. and i'm hoping we can start some payments on it before we get through here. that's why i want another 4 years. >> well, we have time now, if you'd like to answer the president's question, or whatever rebuttal. >> well, we've just finished almost the whole debate. and the american people don't have the slightest clue about what president reagan will do about these deficits. and yet, that's the most important single issue of our time. i did support the '76 measure that he told about, because we
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were in a deep recession and we needed some stimulation. but i will say as a democrat, i was a real piker, mr. president. in 1979 we ran a $29 billion deficit all year. this administration seems to run that every morning. and the result is exactly what we see. this economy is starting to run downhill. housing is off. last report on new purchases, it's the lowest since 1982. growth is a little over 3% now. many people are predicting a recession. and the flow of imports into this country is swamping the american people. we've got to deal with this problem, and those of us who want to be your president should tell you now what we're going to do, so you can make a judgment. >> thank you very much. we must stop now. i want to give you time for your closing statements. it's indeed time for that from each of you. we will begin with president reagan. oh, i'm sorry, mr. reagan, you had your rebuttal, and i just cut you off because our time is going. you have a chance now for rebuttal before your closing statement.
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is that correct? >> no, i might as well just go with --- >> do you want to go with your --- >> i don't think so. i'm all confused now. >> technically, you did. i have little voices that come in my ear. [laughter] you don't get those same voices. >> all right. >> you have waived your rebuttal. you can go with your closing statement. >> well, we'll include it in that. >> okay. >> four years ago, in similar circumstances to this, i asked you, the american people, a question. i asked, "are you better off than you were 4 years before? 'the answer to that obviously was no, and as the result, i was elected to this office and promised a new beginning. now, maybe i'm expected to ask that same question again. i'm not going to, because i think that all of you -- or not everyone, those people that are in those pockets of poverty and haven't caught up, they couldn't answer the way i would want them to -- but i think that most of the people in this country would say, yes, they are better off than they were 4 years ago. the question, i think, should be enlarged.
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is america better off than it was 4 years ago? and i believe the answer to that has to also be "yes.' i promised a new beginning. so far, it is only a beginning. if the job were finished, i might have thought twice about seeking reelection for this job. but we now have an economy that, for the first time -- well, let's put it this way -- in the first half of 1980, gross national product was down a minus 3.7%. the first half of '84 it's up 8.5%. productivity in the first half of 1980 was down a minus 2%. today it is up a plus 4%. personal earnings after taxes per capita have gone up almost $3,000 in these 4 years. in 1980 -- or 1979, a person with a fixed income of $8,000 was $500 above the poverty line, and this maybe explains why there are the numbers still in poverty. by 1980 that same person was $500 below the poverty line.
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we have restored much of our economy. with regard to business investment, it is higher than it has been since 1949. so, there seems to be no shortage of investment capital. we have, as i said, cut the taxes, but we have reduced inflation, and for 2 years now it has stayed down there, not at double digit, but in the range of 4 or below. we believe that we had also promised that we would make our country more secure. yes, we have an increase in the defense budget. but back then we had planes that couldn't fly for lack of spare parts or pilots. we had navy vessels that couldn't leave harbor because of lack of crew or, again, lack of spare parts. today we're well on our way to a 600-ship navy. we have 543 at present. we have -- our military, the morale is high. i think the people should understand that two-thirds of the defense budget pays for pay and salary, or pay and pension.
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and then you add to that food and wardrobe, and all the other things, and you only have a small portion going for weapons. but i am determined that if ever our men are called on, they should have the best that we can provide in the manner of tools and weapons. there has been reference to expensive spare parts, hammers costing $500. well, we are the ones who found those. i think we've given the american people back their spirit. i think there's an optimism in the land and a patriotism, and i think that we're in a position once again to heed the words of thomas paine, who said, "we have it in our power to begin the world over again.' >> thank you, mr. reagan. mr. mondale, the closing words are now yours. >> i want to thank the league of women voters and the city of louisville for hosting this evening's debate. i want to thank president reagan for agreeing to debate. he didn't have to, and he did,
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and we all appreciate it. the president's favorite question is, are you better off? well, if you're wealthy, you're i
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league of women voters and the city of louisville for hosting this evening's debate. i want to thank president reagan for agreeing to debate. he didn't have to, and he did, and we all appreciate it. the president's favorite question is, are you better off? well, if you're wealthy, you're better off. if you're middle income, you're about where you were. and if you're modest income, you're worse off. that's what the economists tell us. but is that really the question that should be asked? isn't the real question is will we be better off? will our children be better off? are we building the future that
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this nation needs? i believe that if we ask those questions that bear on our future, not just congratulate ourselves but challenge us to solve those problems, you'll see that we need new leadership. are we better of with this arms race? will we be better off if we start this star wars escalation into the heavens? are we better off when we deemphasize our values in human rights? are we better off when we load our children with this fantastic debt? would fathers and mothers feel proud of themselves if they loaded their children with debts like this nation is now -- over a trillion dollars on the shoulders of our children? can we say, really say that we will be better off when we pull away from sort of that basic american instinct of decency and fairness? i would rather lose a campaign about decency than win a campaign about self-interest.
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i don't think this nation is composed of people who care only for themselves. and when we sought to assault social security and medicare, as the record shows we did, i think that was mean-spirited. when we terminated 400,000 desperate, hopeless, defenseless americans who were on disability -- confused and unable to defend themselves, and just laid them out on the street, as we did for 4 years, i don't think that's what america is all about. america is a fair society, and it is not right that vice president bush pays less in taxes than the janitor who helps him. i believe there's fundamental fairness crying out that needs to be achieved in our tax system. i believe that we will be better off if we protect this environment. and contrary to what the president says, i think their record on the environment is inexcusable and often shameful. these laws are not being enforced, have not been
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enforced, and the public health and the air and the water are paying the price. that's not fair for our future. i think our future requires a president to lead us in an all-out search to advance our education, our learning, and our science and training, because this world is more complex and we're being pressed harder all the time. i believe in opening doors. we won the olympics, in part, because we've had civil rights laws and the laws that prohibit discrimination against women. i have been for those efforts all my life. the president's record is quite different. the question is our future. president kennedy once said in response to similar arguments, "we are great, but we can be greater.' we can be better if we face our future, rejoice in our strengths, face our problems, and by solving them, build a better society for our children. thank you.
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>> thank you, mr. mondale. [applause] >> please, we have not finished quite yet. thank you, mr. mondale, and thank you, mr. president. and our thanks to our panel members, as well. and so we bring to a close this first of the league of women voters presidential debates of 1984. you two can go at each again in the final league debate on october 21st, in kansas city, missouri. and this thursday night, october 11th, at 9 p.m. eastern daylight time, the vice president, george bush, will debate congresswoman geraldine ferraro in philadelphia. and i hope that you will all watch once again. no matter what the format is, these debates are very important. we all have an extremely vital decision to make.
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once more, gentlemen, our thanks. once more, to you, our thanks. now, this is barbara walters wishing you a good evening. [applause] [applause] [applause] [captions performed by national captioning institute]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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here now is mr. ross perot.
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>> goodee you. thank you. good to see you. thank you. now, governor clinton. thank you. now, president sh.
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about 30 seconds we'll go on the air.
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good evening and welcome to the first of 3 ndidates for presidentf jor the united states sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. the candidates are: independent candidate ross perot, governor bill clinton, the democratic nominee, and presiden george bush. >> i am jim lehrer. i will be the moderator for this 90 minute event. thisis on the campus of washington university, in st. louis, missouri.
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3 journalists will be asking questions, john mashek, ann compton of abc news, and sander vanocur. >> we will follow a format agreed to agreed by the clinton and bush campaigns. that contains no restriions on the content or subject matter of the questions. each candidate will haveup to 2 minutes for a closing atement. the order of those as well as the questioning was determined by a drawing. the first question goes to mr. perot. he wl have 2 minutes to answer to be followed by rebuttals of 1 minute each by governor clinton and then president bush. gentlemen, good evening. >> the first pic tonight is, what separates each of you from the other. mr. perot, what do you believe tonight is the
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single most important separating issue of this campaign? pa is that 5.5 ipal issue that million people came together and put me on the ballot. i was not put on the ballot by money, by any foreign lomoney or special interest money. this is a movement that came from the people. this is the way the framers of the constitution intended the government to be. it is a government that comes from the people. over the time, we have developed a government that comes from the top down where the ople are more or less treated as objects to be programmed during the came pain during commercials and media events and personal attacks and things of that te yuerb. the thing that separates m this came from millions of that
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peopover this country that wanted a candidate that worked and belonged to nobody but them. i go into this race as their servant. i beng to them. so this comes from the people. >> governor clinton, 1 minute response. >> the most important distinction in this campaign ithat i respect real hope for change. derture from trickle down e departure from tax and spend economics to invest and grow. before i can do that, i must challenge the american people to change and they must decide . tonight, i say to the president, mr. bush, for 12 years you've had it your way. you've had your chance and n't work. it's time to change. i want to bring that change to the american people, but we all decide to have the courage to change for hope and a better tomorrow. >> predent bush, 1 minute
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response. >> well, i think one thing that dins -- distingouss our experience, we changed the world, the changes are mind bogg kids go to bed without the ear of nuclear war. change for change sake is not enough. we saw that in the late '70s and what happened in misery and that. it wenthe roof. my economic program is the kind of change we want and the way we're going to get it done is to have a brand t of them are thrown out because of this. we'll sit down with democrats and republicans alike to work for my agenda that represents real change. i think the change from me is experience. >> governoclinton, how do you respond on the question of ee. he says that is what makes
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ent from the other two of you. >> i believe experience counts but it is not everything. lues, judgment, an recohave a mass in my state should count for something. i worked hard to create good jobs and educate people. my state now ranks first in the country in job growth this year. fourth in income growth, fourth in the reduction of poverty. third in overall economic performance. that is because we believe in investing and education d in jobs. we have to change in this country. you know, my wife hillary gave me a book a year ago in which the author defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a result. we have to have the courage to change. experience is important, yes. i've gotten a lot of good experience in dealing with ordinary people over layear, month. ief touched more peop's lives and seen more
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heartbreak and hope than anybody else that has run for president this year. i think the american people deserve better than what they're getting. we have gone from first to 13th in wages since bush d reagan have been income. has droppesince there have been twice as jobs created.ptcy with new the same old experience is not relevant. we're living in a new world after the cold war. what works in the work is not trickle down not tax and spend, but a economic to invest in the american jobs and education. controlling health care costs and bringing the american people together, that is what works. you can have the right kind of experience and wrong ki of experience. mine is rooted through real people and will bring results. >> president bush, 1 minute to respond. >> i have thought of another big difference
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between me. i don't believe, mr. perot think he said that the untry is coming a part at the seems. now, i know that the only way he can win is to make everybody believe the economy is worse than it is. as it seams.e of the economic problems, we have the -- we are the most economic party around. we have been caught up in a global slow . we ought not to convince the people that america is a country coming apart at the seems. i would hate to be coming as president and think the only way i could win is to convince everybody how horrible thins yes, there are big problems. yes, people are hurting. but i believe this agenda for american renewal is the
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answer to do it. i believe we can get it done now you're going to have a brand new bunch of people in the congress that is going to listen to the same people i'm listening to. >> mr. perot, 1 minute to respond. >> they have a point. i don't have experience in running a $4 million debt. i don't have experience in lock government where nobody takes responsibility for everything. i don't have the experience of creating the most violent crime in the industrialized world, but i do have a lot of experience in getting things done. so if we're at a point in history whe we want to stop talking about it and doing it, i have experience in how to solve problems and making solutions work. i have a lot of experience and not take ten years to solve a ten minute if it takes action, i